CARE 66 - biking for a cause

As hard as it was to do, and despite being the last person off the course for the day, I completed the "Whole Enchilada" route of the 4th Annual Mother Road Classic.  The course is supposedly 66 miles, but I clocked the route at 62 (though I found out later that there was a short little turn off that would have added about a mile to the route).

We had great weather, even though it did rain for the first few minutes, it was only a light sprinkle, and  then the sun came out the rest of the ride.  Visit the CARE 66 web site and find out what they are all about.  Their mission is to create opportunities for homeless people, and currently they are working to build some low income rental housing units.  The money we raised from Saturday's ride was certainly for a good cause.

After all of that work and all that climbing on the hills the Mapmyride web site reports that I burned over 7,000 calories doing the ride.  No wonder I feel tired.  Rumor is that next year will be less steep.

Now it is back indoors to do some lesson planning and grading....


Wacom tablet convert - I drank the "Koolaid"

A few years ago I started looking around at using a pen tablet with Photoshop to do some advanced retouching and some painting.  I was (like most people) short on funds, and I thought that the best option was to get a Vistablet 12.  My reasoning was that the pen was not as important as the size of the tablet.  It worked well enough, but it was never anything like drawing with real pencil, charcoal or other tools.
 I saw that Wacom had a variety of tools, like their Bamboo tablets, and I mistakenly thought they were just little hobby toys.
That just changed today.

I had some funds to buy point and shoot cameras and a half dozen of the Wacom Bamboo tablets for my photography and yearbook classes.  The students have been anxious to use the cameras (I got factory refurbished Nikon Coolpix 6300 cameras) and I did not get a chance to look at and install a tablet until today.
The Wacom Bamboo CTH 470
Wow.  Even though the tablet is smaller, the pen is so much more precise, and the pressure sensitivity is simply awesome.  I can actually vary my strokes with mild changes to the pen pressure.  With the Vistablet I always felt like I had to press hard, and wondered if I was damaging the unit.

The Vistablet 12 is large, but I have found that having a tablet that is as large as the screen is actually a bit cumbersome to work with. I end up moving the pen a lot to get to the corners of the screen.  The smaller size tablet from Wacom actually works better to minimize the amount I have to move my hand around.  If I need more detail I can simply zoom the image in Photoshop rather than try to move the pen all around the larger tablet.

A bonus: with the Wacom Bamboo you get coupons for a free metal print, a free photobook from Shutterfly, and a choice of a free software program.  The software choice includes Photoshop Elements 10.  Basically you buy the program and get the tablet free.

From now on my Vistablet is going to be relegated to emergencies and I will be looking for excuses to use the Bamboo tablets in my classroom whenever I can.